May the climbers rest in peace

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May the climbers rest in peace

With the mountains of his fatherland blanketed in autumn leaves, legendary mountaineer Park Young-seok is now at rest under the Himalayan snow. He and his two fellow climbers, Kang Ki-seok and Shin Dong-min, went missing while struggling to chart a new route on a southern cliff of the 8,901-meter (29,200-feet) Mount Annapurna in north-central Nepal. The climbers’ families and members of the Korean Alpine Federation held a memorial service for them yesterday on the mountain after coming to the difficult conclusion that all of them had died.

Park was an impeccable symbol of challenge. In 2005, he became the first in the world to complete the true Adventurers’ Grand Slam, which entails reaching the North Pole and the South Pole and scaling the world’s 14 eight-thousanders and the Seven Summits. Yet he devotedly launched another expedition to find a “Korean route” in the Himalayas for his beloved fellow Korean climbers.

Since Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person in the world to conquer Mount Everest in 1953, no one has achieved results that are as marvelous as his in the world of expeditions.

He was the Steve Jobs of mountain climbing. After losing Steve Jobs in the IT world, the world has lost another challenger - and dreamer - in a world of climbing.

There is hardly another place as dangerous as the peaks of the Himalayas, which incessantly threaten climbers with menaces such as unexpected avalanches, abyssal crevasses and unpredictable weather patterns. But Park conquered the mountains as if they were small hills. He used to say, “I will never give up as long as there’s a 1 percent chance of success.”

To the young people across the world who are frustrated and outraged by the difficulty of their lives, Park’s undaunted spirit to undertake any challenge will serve as encouragement and consolation.

The Korean rescue team did its best to find the missing heroes at the risk of their own lives. We can hardly remember a rescue mission that has lasted for as long as the one the Korean team undertook. Acrophobia, avalanches, landslides and crevasses did not dampen the will of the rescue team, which did not forget the message of hope exemplified by Park’s “1 percent chance of success.”

After a grand drama full of indomitable courage and inspiration, Park has now returned to the bosom of Mother Nature. May the goddess of the Himalayas soothe the souls of the deceased.

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